I was at a workshop last week where the question was raised “what is the most important thing to keeping staff?”.
The first response was about increasing wages, followed by silence from the presenter… One lady said “staff appreciation:" hearing her boss say thank you (and mean it), was the reason she stayed in her role.
It’s human nature to crave recognition, so it’s no surprise it’s critical to team culture and staff retention.
Employees who don’t feel recognized when they do good work are two times more likely to be job hunting.
This statistic has significance! Imagine if your entire workforce was feeling unsatisfied and thus at a high chance of moving on. You’d be left in a tricky situation!
The cost associated with hiring new team members is huge. There is the recruiter fee, an ad publishing fee, training expenses, and your time, plus your team trainer’s time, all going down the drain.
Financial incentives doing your company more damage than good
When money is the only incentive for staff to stay, what do you think is going to happen? I’ve heard of a company who were struggling with staffing, they had a few people leave, which lead to overload on the remaining workforce. The team was working late, being pushed to work faster, and they consequentially started leaving. The boss, desperate to hold onto who they could, offered pay rises and financial incentives for them to stay. But prolonged stress and a lack of appreciation lead to more staff resigning!
Financial incentives alone create a slippery slope into poor mental health, terrible work culture, and unproductive competitiveness.
A few months later the boss changed tactic. They started being present more at the office. This didn’t mean more time in the office, rather when they were there, they were THERE. There for the team, and present to notice and show appreciation for their staff’s work.
The company started supporting a charity each month, giving a higher purpose over making profits. The company started creating weekly lunches for the team, to foster friendships and give back to the team (who doesn’t love free food?!). The company started to share their vision and involve the team in their mission, making the team feel involved and like they were helping the customer. And rapidly, the company’s staff retention increased.
Employees who believe their company has a higher purpose than just profits are 27% more likely to stay at their companies.
Money is not always what drives people. It may do short term, but for sustainable growth, and for staff retention to be higher than a year or so, you’ve got to show appreciation in other ways!
You know the feeling when you’re treated like you are just a number? Rather than a living, breathing, emotional being - when money and cutting costs are the key priority. Yeah, not a good feeling.
It’s human nature to need to be recognised. Especially in the workplace.
So, a big question:
What does it cost to keep staff satisfied?
It can be done on a small budget, or it can be completely free.
Let’s explore the idea of small gifts for staff. We’ve gone over how much it can cost to lose and replace a staff member -thousands! What if I told you it could cost under $1000 to show appreciation? How about under $100? Or under $50?
Small appreciation gifts can be as small as a pen, or a personalised beeswax wrap after completing a project. Or as large as a deluxe hamper, or a night’s accommodation at a luxury hotel when you notice they’re overworked and tiring.
Other ideas for staff gifts on a budget include items they might use every day like lunch bags, coffee cups, and custom water bottles with your brand’s logo on it.
Example 1: I received a water bottle from one of my contractors. It was great quality, a fun colour, and 2 years later, I still use it every day! It has a small logo of theirs on it – imagine the exposure that has brought their company, and the satisfaction I get from having an awesome water bottle!
Example 2: SUSTOMi have created custom beeswax wraps for many Australian corporate clients and received great feedback and repeat orders. A communications company based in Sydney has gifted their clients and staff a custom beeswax wrap each Christmas for the past 3 years. They love being able to put their brand logo and brand message, or a stylish local artist’s work, on the beeswax wrap; to share their story and their message with their business community. The beeswax wraps can be used by their team every day, and who doesn’t talk about their lunch in the staff room (or at least check out what their neighbour is eating)? They saw happier staff and ongoing exposure for their company, all for under $15 per person.
If $15 doesn’t sound cheap enough, or you want to add more value without expanding your gifting budget, how about working on staff retention with thanks and praise?
69% of employees say they would work harder if their efforts were better appreciated.
How to show words of appreciation for staff, for free?
Showing appreciation can be as simple as a “thank you for XX” at the end of a day, a shout-out in a meeting, an early afternoon, or a staff of the month campaign.
So, we’ve reviewed how simple and affordable it can be to make staff happier, but, unfortunately, staff gift budgets are often small (if they exist at all) and are usually one of the first expense line items to get cut when things get tough.
I challenge you to challenge the idea of scarcity when it comes to team culture.
Make your employees feel seen with 1 simple action: gift something thoughtful.
A thank you should not cost the earth.